It's All About The Enthusiasts
As I sit here in my theater, I am pondering to myself, 'what the heck should I write about to start this all off?'
So, I was thinking and thinking and I finally came to the topic of: what is Home Theater or Home Cinema really about? And it was really a simple answer... People. The “End User", if you will. Not the manufacturer, not the reps or dealers, and not even the superstores that sell all this great gear that gives us all of this pleasure. It's simply first and foremost the enthusiasts that drive this industry, and drive it so well.
I've had the pleasure of doing something I love to do since 1995, when I stepped into all of this. Now, don’t get me wrong... I have been a technophile (AKA Gadget Geek) for much longer than that. It's just that in 1995 I started to reach out to the world via the Internet with my passion. And that led me to something even better… people who share my same passion. People like you, a reader of this great site that is devoted to Home Theater. People with the passion to make all they can out of what they have to work with. To me, this was the best discovery of Home Theater. It is the sharing, the chatting, and the opportunity to just get to know people who have the same enthusiasm for the hobby -- and at the same time, also have the drive to want to improve it.
I really can say I have both worked with and have met some wonderful people from all around the world over these years. It's just amazing to be able to do this, you see. As an enthusiast myself, it is great to be able to work with people and manufacturers to better a product for home theater. I am not just talking about the products I may use myself, but almost anything home theater related at one point or another. Seeing that I have been working with the home theater audience for so long online, I seem to have the ear of manufacturers. They are very much indeed listening to the wants and needs of their buying public. What you say, how you say it, and who you address it to all plays a part in this.
Which now brings me back to this point that it is all about the enthusiast. You play a vital roll in what happens next in this world of entertainment. How products come about and how current products are improved can come down to you. I have seen this time and time again. From the improvement of a product that very much needed some help to be all it can be, to even new products being developed and then manufactured to fill a need. I have both taken part myself and have also just sat back and watched it all happen. Understand that it is the buyer -- the end user -- that may purchase an item, and without sales, the product will fail. But it is the true enthusiast that helps to get the most out of that product by giving feedback to the manufacture, and one another.
So... how can you help improve home theater? Simple. Let the manufacturer know what you like and do not like about a product. Now, remember, as mom use to say, it is not what you say, but how you say it. When you go to forums or write a letter to a company, do not tell them how bad something is using language that belongs in the gutter. Instead, just make the points about what you feel is not right. Note that I said what “you feel” is not right. For what you may consider as not the correct way to do something, someone else may disagree. Give them your thoughts as to what may be wrong and what you feel could maybe help. Also, give them some of the items you really like. You see, it seems we're always quick to complain about something, but don't often take the time to commend.
As I have said, I have seen this approach work time and time again. A manufacturer reads a thread on AVS Forum, does a follow-up, and improvements are made. This is not just the power of the Internet, but the power of the enthusiasts showing a company what they should consider doing to make a good product great. Some companies have even gone as far as to send out updates to the “early adopters” (one who buys a first-of-a-kind product right as it is released) so they do not get left behind. Samsung is a perfect example of this. Years ago, members of AVS Forum not only helped to make their first rear projection DLP product better by letting them know what needed to be changed, but also offered each other online suggestions for improvements. Samsung read these suggestions, made changes directly on the manufacturing line for the current product, developed a new product, and then offered an upgrade path to the early adopters so they would not be left out. After all, those folks were the ones that bought the product when it was just released and then gave the real, unbiased feedback to make it better. This is just great to see companies not forgetting the early adopters that helped to make their product better, and for allowing them to have a hand in shaping their product offerings.
If there's one thing I can stress to you it's that you do play a role in improving Home Theater. You don't just support it by purchasing products, you shape it by giving real feedback to better the future of this ever-growing segment of entertainment. This is what AVS was founded on and became known for, and this is why we're now re-launching the site on the Huddler community platform to give the enthusiasts an even stronger voice. Because ultimately, that's what it's all about: you, the enthusiasts.
David Bott is the founder AVS Forum, the largest Home Theater community on the web, and has been doing his part for the past two decades to improve the Home Theater experience. In addition to having also developed other AV-related communities, David has been published in several Home Theater books and magazines. He also runs the yearly Home Theater Cruise, which celebrates the industry at sea.